The longest-reigning unelected prime minister in the world today, he is said to be the wealthiest (and, depending on whom one talks to, the most powerful) member of the Al Khalifa, having to his name the large island of Jiddah north of the Saudi Causeway (see below, via Google Earth; looks pretty nice, right?) and, by all accounts, the prominent Bahraini dailies Al-Bilad and Akhbar al-Khalij. One memorable respondent to my survey called him "Mr. Guinness" for his place in the Guinness World Records, another "Mr. 50-50" for his presumed cut of the national revenues.
When the Bahraini opposition demanded several weeks ago that the prime minister step down as one of its preconditions for dialogue, for example, an anonymous online poll asking Bahrainis whether he should leave racked up more than 40,000 votes, which, assuming all who took part were Bahrainis, amounts to some 7% of the entire citizen population (the poll, to be clear, was not my doing). The responses, interestingly, are split nearly down the middle--with 53% in favor and 47% against. But are we safe in assuming that they tend to fall mostly along Sunni-Shi'i lines?
my previous post of trust in political institutions, here there is still less within-group variation in response: 60% of Sunni respondents (a full 67% of valid responses) report “a great degree” of trust in the prime ministership, while 55% of Shi‘a (68% if we exclude refusals and “unsure” responses) say that they have “none at all” (“لا أثق بها علی الإطلاق”). The discrepancy in the last two proportions is a testament to the sensitivity of this question particularly among Shi‘a (a full 13% refused to answer), several of whom joked with more or less seriousness that we were trying to get them thrown in jail. It is indeed no stretch to say that of the entire survey this is the most politically-sensitive question asked, and for a time there was debate whether it could be asked at all.
Sensitivity notwithstanding, however, the graph above speaks for itself. When it comes to the PM, Bahrainis either love him or hate him--or rather, trust him totally or don't trust him at all. And the group into which one falls is not determined randomly!
Just compare this photo from the Sunni-frequented Kingdom of Bahrain forum:
(The translation is: "We will protect national unity, but we will not say, 'Let bygones be bygones'"--a well-known quote of the PM, and a timely one indeed.)